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Dangers of Cheerleading
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim
Do you know someone whose daughter is involved with cheerleading?
If so, you may want to tell him or her about a recent study in the journal Pediatrics, that reports that the number of cheerleaders that suffered concussions, broken bones, lacerations, sprains, and strains increased by more than 100 percent between 1990 and 2002.
According to the author of the study, Brenda Shields, on average, more than 16,000 cheerleaders between the ages of 5 and 18 in the United States visit a hospital emergency room with an injury each year.
More specifically, 8 out of every 1,000 cheerleaders sustain an injury that requires a visit to the hospital. And most of the injured cheerleaders are girls between the ages of 12 and 17.
The rising frequency of injuries in this population is partly attributed to riskier stunts that are being implemented into cheerleading routines in the name of competition. This competitive environment is well depicted by Bring It On, a major Hollywood motion picture that came out in 2000 that provided an inside look at the world of high school cheerleading.
Interestingly, this study didn't include data from college level cheerleaders, who in all likelihood suffer physical injuries at a similar rate as high school cheerleaders.
While this report suggests the need for "rules and regulations directed at increasing the safety of cheerleading," I just can't see how I could feel good about my own child participating in an activity that has such a significant risk of injury.
Hockey and football are two additional athletic activities that come with an alarmingly high rate of physical injuries.
I realize that many parents don't have a say in which sports their children choose to play, but it seems prudent to talk with our children at any early age about the inordinate risks involved with certain athletic activities.
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